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Plain Truth Magazine
February 1983
Volume: Vol 48, No.2
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William Stenger

Here are clear, concise answers to the challenges of evolutionists.

   THE ORIGIN of life is the least understood biological problem.
   While acknowledging this fact, evolutionists go on to believe as an article of faith that life came into existence on this planet spontaneously from nonliving matter by chemical processes. They further accept as an article of faith that life progressively evolved by blind chance into the vast array of living things we see today. This belief is claimed to be "fact." Those who do not accept this "fact" are ridiculed as ignorant and unscientific.
   Is evolution scientific fact, or is it science fiction?
   In an earlier Plain Truth article titled "This Physical Life... Did It Begin by Chance?" which appeared in the September, 1981, U.S. edition (see box for brief summary) we showed the fantastic odds against even very "simple" constituents of living organisms occurring by chance. And we proved the even greater improbability of such constituents producing living organisms by chance.
   In particular we considered a protein consisting of a chain of about 100 amino acids. We showed that if all the known stars in the universe had 10 earths, and if all the earths had oceans of "amino acid soup," and if all the amino acids linked up in chains 100 acids long every second for the entire estimated history of the universe, even then the chance occurrence of a given very simple protein would be extremely improbable.
   We also answered a number of the more common evolutionary counterarguments. Since then we have received additional queries. Here are the queries with our answers:
   There may be many combinations of amino acids that would work. So the probability of their forming by chance would be much greater than that of a specific combination.
   No scientific experimentation has shown that a different combination of amino acids could be substituted for a given protein and still perform exactly the same way. The marvelous complexity of the specific functions performed by the combination that does work in nature demands the correct sequence of amino acids to be present in each case. (We are aware, of course, that various proteins may be consumed and reassembled into other proteins by an existing living organism.)
   A given life form requires specific combinations of specific molecules. Just any arbitrary random combination will not work.
   It is much like a combination lock. If you do not know the combination, you can spin numbers at random to try to open the lock. You may spin perfectly good numbers. They might even work on some other lock at some other time and in some other place. But if they do not open the given lock the one you are trying to open it does not do you a bit of good.
   Now if you would calculate the probability of finding the right combination by random spinning, the probability depends only on the available numbers for the given lock. The probability has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not some other combinations may open some other locks.
   You did not specify which protein and therefore were only dealing in possibilities not probabilities.
   We used the standard mathematical definition of probability as applicable to the problem under discussion. The probability of a given protein of 100 amino acids occurring by chance is 10-130. The fact that we did not specify which one is irrelevant. The article was written for a general audience, not for an audience of biochemists. If it were a more technical article, we easily could have specified a complicated protein, say hemoglobin, and used essentially the same line of reasoning. The point is that even the supposedly simplest components found in living things are actually very complex. Their existence cannot be explained on the basis of blind chance.
   The experiments of Stanley L. Miller in the 1950s showed that the "primeval soup" of the sea would contain surprisingly large quantities of the building blocks of life: amino acids, nucleotides, etc.
   Whether or not this is the case does not matter. In our article we were even more generous than Mr. Miller. We gave each star in the universe 10 "earths" and each "earth" an ocean of "primeval soup" mixed to the evolutionists' recipe. Nevertheless, it did not make the evolution of even one "simple" protein probable.
   The fundamental building molecules are not proteins but DNA.
   The attempt to use DNA in the synthesis of proteins only makes the situation worse for evolution. DNA is even more unlikely to come into existence by chance than protein is. It would be like someone claiming that a table of logarithms came into existence by being generated by a computer that, in turn, came into existence by chance.
   Smaller self-replicating chains could form and progress in small steps to produce longer and longer chains.
   There are a number of difficulties with such a model. First of all, scientists have not found any evidence of such occurring in nature. Second, even if it could occur, the probabilities of ending up with the right sequence, after all the small steps, would still be immeasurably small by essentially the same reasoning given in the article. Third, what would be the role or purpose of such intermediate chains? Why and how would they survive to produce more complicated chains? Certainly, there is no evidence of the existence of intermediate chains being somehow related to intermediate species.
   Natural selection is an established theory. The hypothesis of Darwin has been confirmed by experimental work.
   We do not necessarily disagree with this up to a point. In the article we did not dispute the existence of cases in which natural selection has occurred. We discussed natural selection in some detail and even gave an example of how it works! We emphasized then and now emphasize again that natural selection can only explain the survival of the fittest. It does not explain the arrival of the fittest.
   Natural selection is adequate to explain the variety of living things we see today.
   Even evolutionists do not make this claim. They require spontaneous generation and mutations
Could a Simple Protein Form by Chance?
   Proteins are essential molecules for the existence of physical life. Protein molecules consist of chains of chemical compounds called amino acids. A relatively simple protein would consist of a chain of about 100 amino acids.
   Suppose we have a "soup" full of amino acids. We want these acids to link up at random to form a protein consisting of 100 amino acids. How many different combinations are there?
   There are on earth 20 different types of amino acids available to form proteins. If we wanted a chain of two such acids, there would be 20 possibilities for the first acid and 20 for the second or 20 x 20 = 400 possibilities. If we wanted a chain of three such acids, there would be 20 x 20 x 20 = 8,000 possibilities.
   For a protein consisting of a chain of 100 acids, therefore, we have 20 x 20 x.... x 20 = 20100 (100 times) possibilities. But 20100 is approximately equal to 10130, that is, 1 followed by 130 zeros. So we have 10130 possibilities, but only one combination is the right one for a given protein.
   Is it reasonable to believe that such a protein could have formed by chance during the history of the universe? The odds against such an event are beyond astronomical.
(at the very least) in addition to natural selection.
   But this does not rule out mutation as a mechanism for improvement when combined with natural selection. For example, a chess player might be competing against many opponents whose starting position is on occasion changed slightly, randomly. Then it might be supposed that those opponents with the better starting positions are more likely to win. Suppose the losers drop out and the winners play many further games (dropping out only if they lose all games from the previous starting position, the chance of a random change continuing). Then might it not be reasoned that after much time, the starting positions in use might improve?
   The analogy regarding starting positions in a chess game is interesting. The reasoning applied, however, is fallacious on several grounds.
   Even if the starting positions are being changed slightly, but randomly, there is no guarantee that an improved starting position that results in a winner one time will result in an improved starting position the next game. Quite the contrary, a small modification of an excellent starting position could conceivably be a disastrous starting position.
   Moreover, the chess players are presumably intelligent beings. They perform at varying skill levels. So it makes no sense to attribute their characteristics to that of a blind chance mechanism of mutations and natural selection.
   The theory of probability applies only to chance phenomena and not to deterministic phenomena. For example, it would be nonsense to ask the question: "What is the probability I will paint my house green?" There is no answer. If I want to paint it green, I will. If I don't, I won't. Similarly, the theory of probability cannot be applied to deterministic games such as chess or checkers.
   On the other hand, the theory of evolution is based on the assumption that living forms came into existence from nonliving matter by chance. In our previous article we showed how improbable even the simplest constituents of living things coming into existence by chance would be. This is a valid application of probability.
   Mutations are like errors in the genetic code. It is this random error making in the genetic machinery that furnishes evolution with the stuff of creative change.
   We did not say that mutations could not account for some changes in the structure or appearance of organisms. In fact, we gave an example of this. What The Plain Truth did state is that mutations cannot produce genuinely new forms of life. We stand on this statement. While minor variations in appearance or structure might be produced by mutations, there is no evidence whatsoever that mutations produce the kind of quantum leaps required by the theory of evolution.
   The fossil record clearly shows evolution has taken place.
   The fossil record provides considerable evidence that evolution did not occur. Consider the facts. Evolution would require a fossil record that shows the gradual changing of one species to another with numerous transitional forms. But instead the fossil record shows broad gaps between fossil species for which there are no intermediate forms.
   Note this startling admission of an evolutionist:
   "The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution accomplishing a major morphologic transition and hence offers no evidence that the gradualistic model can be valid" (Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, Steven M. Stanley, page 39).
   Scientists have created life. They made a simple organism that could eat oil spills in the ocean and then die out for lack of food.
   Actually, these organisms were not created from nonliving matter. They were developed from existing living organisms through genetics. These genetic engineers have no more claim to creating life than a dog breeder does.
   You are presenting to your readers the fallacy that science is a finished product and that whatever is speculative in science is therefore wrong.
   As far as taking science as a "finished product" is concerned, we are fully aware that scientific theories undergo continual refinement. Many scientists cheerfully admit that they are speculating. We have no complaint with scientific speculation as long as such is truthfully identified as speculation. Evolutionists however do not admit that the theory of evolution is speculative. Instead, they palm off speculation as fact. In the March 23, 1981, issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Rolf M. Sinclair, a physicist at the U.S. National Science Foundation, is quoted as follows:
"We do not... dispute the existence of cases in which natural selection has occurred.... Natural selection can only explain survival of the fittest. It does not explain arrival of the fittest."
   "The fact of evolution is as incontrovertible as the fact that the earth is spherical rather than flat."
   The author and biochemist Isaac Asimov stated:
   "Scientists have no choice but to consider evolution a fact" ("The Genesis War," Science Digest, October, 1981, page 85).
   "Having the fact of evolution before us..." (ibid., page 85).
   "Evolution is a fact..." (ibid., page 87).
   Honestly, does that sound like speculation to you?
   Your acceptance of God's existence is not based on rational thinking. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines faith or belief in God as a "belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence."
   A dictionary is not an arbiter of truth. Actually, dictionaries give several definitions of faith. Not every dictionary definition of faith demands the exclusion of logic, reasoning or material evidence. True faith, the kind of faith spoken of in the Bible, is not a blind, superstitious, illogical faith. It is a faith based on "evidence of things not seen" and is in harmony with logic, reason and the factual world.
   Where did God come from? Since the creator of the universe would have to be more "complicated" than the universe itself, the probability of God coming into existence by chance would be less than the probability of the universe coming into existence by chance.
   This is a popular argument. It has two fundamental flaws.
   First of all, an Eternal Being does not need to come into existence, since he has always existed. It makes no sense to ask: "What is the probability that a Being, who always existed, came into existence?" The question is inherently contradictory.
   Second, eternal existence is not a chance phenomenon. Someone or something either always existed or did not always exist. No probability is involved. For this reason we cannot apply probability to questions such as, "Does God exist?" or "Has the universe always existed?"
   Why could not God have chosen to use evolution to produce life forms we see in the world?
   Where does a 500-pound gorilla sit? Wherever he wants. How did an Eternal God create life? Obviously, however he wanted!
   Would a superintelligent, superpowerful Divine Being use a chaotic, random, haphazard process such as evolution to create life? We quote the eminent scientist Sir Fred Hoyle:
   "The thought occurred to me one day that the human chemical industry doesn't chance on its products by throwing chemicals at random into a stew pot. To suggest to the research department [of a chemical corporation] that it should proceed in such a fashion would be thought ridiculous" (Engineering and Science, November, 1981, page 12).
   This leading scientist, who would have liked to believe in evolution and who was seeking the origin of life in the blind forces of nature, finally had to conclude:
   "A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question" (ibid., page 12).
   What about you? Do you believe that "simple" life forms came into existence by blind chance in a cosmic chemical stewpot? Do you further believe that such simple living things gradually developed such marvelously intricate structures as hearts, lungs, eyes and brains through "random errors in the genetic code"?
   The physical evidence from the factual world leads to only one conclusion living things had to be planned, designed and created by a Supreme Being!

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Plain Truth MagazineFebruary 1983Vol 48, No.2
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